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Lloyd's List - Publish MUSC letter

2 October 2009

Lloyd's List publish MUSC CEO Chris Austen's opinion on anti-piracy citadels
October 2009

The use of citadels in the event of hijacking have recently been disputed. However MUSC's CEO Chris Austen, widely recongised as an industry expert in maritime security recently wrote an open letter to Lloyd’s List to outline the situations in which the use of citadels is warranted. The full letter is as follows:

"SIR, There has been much discussion recently about the validity of the citadel concept during an attempted hijacking.

There is no doubt that this is a practice that with proper planning should continue. However, we recognise that in certain circumstances, a decision to occupy a citadel may be inappropriate.

The citadel was never meant to be universally applied during an attack at sea. Indeed, it is and should remain one of a number of measures that we believe should be available to the master in the event of an attack at sea. Taking shelter in a protected, locked-down area in a vessel when pirates are boarding is ultimately the master's decision. However, it should not be first, but the last part of co-ordinated procedures with the focus on identifying an approaching threat and preventing attempted boarding.

There are a number of circumstances in which the citadel is warranted. Scenarios might include:

a boarding by bandits intent on robbery;

when there is a military presence close by and that asset advises the master to use the citadel;

while the boarding is being attempted and the ship is taking small arms fire as it takes evasive measures.

Importantly, the citadel must be such that it affords some form of protection against a variety of attack scenarios. While this is not always possible, effective planning and professional advice can go a long way to helping vessel crews remain safe.

Before transiting high-risk areas, there must be a thorough assessment or review to identify the safest location for both a muster point and a citadel, with both areas prepared for possible use. It is the master who must determine whether the citadel should be used and that call will be based on a decision matrix developed in advance with the advice from his security officer or external advisers."


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